Experience the natural wonders and culture of the Andes Mountains and Amazon Jungles of Ecuador. This active multisport journey explores the best of more than 5 different ecosystems. Mountain bike through cloud forests, navigate down the rivers of the rainforests, relax in the rejuvenating natural hot springs, learn from ancient cultures and much more. Top-notch guides accompany you on an unforgettable journey; whitewater rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding and trekking through one of the world’s most diverse countries.
Andes and Amazon Premium Multisport Adventure
Day 1: Hike in Pasochoa Wildlife Reserve and Horseback Riding in Cotopaxi National Park (L,D)
We depart in the morning from Quito due south through the famed Avenue of the Volcanoes. On the way, we enjoy spectacular views of the Pita Canyon River Gorge in the foothills of the Pasochoa Volcano. We reach the entrance of Pasochoa Forest within the collapsed crater just 30 Km south of Quito. This lively forest boasts a wide range of highland trees and shrubs, as well as orchids, bromeliads, lichens, and ferns. Prolific birdlife includes at least 11 species of hummingbirds, and many birds endemic to Ecuador are easily spotted along the trails. If the skies are clear, the hike is made even more magical by the stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks in the distance. We continue on to Hacienda El Porvenir, a 3000-hectare, family-owned hacienda rich in history and representative of the Chagra (Ecuadorian cowboy) culture. After a traditional welcome tea, our lunch features gourmet, locally-produced Andean foods. In the afternoon we gear up Chagra style, and don ponchos, chaps, and cowboy hats to explore the expansive grounds of the hacienda on horseback (hiking is optional).
Day 2: Mountain Biking at Cotopaxi Volcano & Explore Banos (B,L,D)
Today we drive towards the base of the Cotopaxi Volcano, where we begin our mountain biking adventure. After a safety briefing, we explore the park’s highland plateaus as we observe typical highland vegetation and fauna with stunning volcano scenery as a backdrop. We visit Limpiopungo Glacier Lake and exit the park through the south entrance. We continue our journey driving through the Avenue of the Volcanoes up to the town of Baños for a delicious lunch. We enjoy spectacular views of the Tungurahua Volcano and the Pastaza River Gorge. After lunch, we explore the town of Baños, a colorful colonial town at an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) surrounded by tropical cloud forest. In the late afternoon, we reach a cozy Andean Hacienda, where we dine and relax for the evening.
Day 3: Biking to the Amazon Indigenous Community (B,L,D)
In the morning, we drive to the edge of Llanganates National Park, gaining altitude until we reach an area with one of the best views of the – often fuming – Tungurahua Volcano. Here, we set up our mountain bikes for a scenic ride through highland paramo, which gradually melds into mountain cloud forest, and then lowland rainforest. We pass through a dry basaltic gorge that is a great spot to look for wild orchids. We continue our ride along the Pastaza River Gorge, one of the principal waterways that feed into the Amazon Basin. This is an especially scenic route, with high rock walls giving way to deep cloud forest canyons. We stop to admire some of the spectacular waterfalls in the area, such as Pailón del Diablo (Devil’s Cauldron) and Manto de la Novia (Bride’s Veil). Switching from 2 wheels to 4, we drive until we reach Puyo, an Amazon frontier town where we learn about the manufacture of products made from Balsa wood, bamboo, ceramics, and other local materials. We enjoy lunch in Puyo before setting out along the Amazon highway to reach our Jungle Lodge. Once we settle into our lodge, we embark on a visit to an indigenous community. Here, we learn about the way of life, culture, traditions, and customs of the Amazon. At the end of the day, we settle into our jungle lodge ready for a peaceful evening surrounded by rainforest sounds.
Day 4: Jungle Rafting on the Jatunyacu River (B,L,D)
After enjoying breakfast in our lodge, we drive to Llanganates National Park, which extends from the high Andes down into the Amazon basin and is part of an area declared a Biosphere Zone by the United Nations. The water that collects in this area forms the Jatunyacu River, which is considered Ecuador’s best one-day river run. We begin the day with a walk in the jungle to reach naturally-formed swimming pools. Upon our return and after a safety briefing, our whitewater rafting adventure begins. A trip down the Jatunyacu River offers spectacular jungle scenery, crystal-clear water, and glimpses into indigenous communities that live along the shores in small bamboo and wood houses. The Jatunyacu is also famed for its big waves, fun holes, and high volume of water (Class III – III+). We’ll spend the rest of the day navigating the Jatunyacu, whose waters carry us through breathtaking landscapes with abundant bird life. In the afternoon, we drive back up into the Andes, climbing from 1,500 to 10,000 feet (500 to 3,000 meters) in altitude and passing through a national park and nature reserve until we reach the Papallacta Hotsprings Resort & Spa. In the evening, we relax in the therapeutic alkaline-rich natural thermal waters of Papallacta while nestled in fantastic cloud forest scenery. Spa services such as massages, aromatherapy, and other optional treatments can also be arranged in advance. Lodgings at Papallacta Resort.
Day 5: Paramo Hike, Cateuilla Monument & Otavalo Indigenous Market (B,L,D)
In the early morning, we visit the highland interpretation center and go for a guided nature hike in a private cloud forest and paramo reserve, where we seek out birds, highland plants, and other Andean wildlife species. Afterwards, we drive to a Middle of the World monument shaped as a star of eight points, representing pre-colonial and Incan indigenous beliefs that 0º latitude was the center of time and measurement. Here we learn about Ecuador’s geographic position and how its location on the equator influences its many cultures, climates, and biological diversity. After this visit, we enjoy lunch on the waterfront of San Pablo Lake. We spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the towns of Otavalo and Peguche, where Ecuador’s indigenous culture and heritage is visible in their famous markets full of colorful textiles, traditional handicrafts, and more. We spend time one-on-one with local weavers who share the secrets of their craft that have been passed down for generations. If there is enough time we may also visit the Andean Music Museum to hear the traditional instrumental and vocal sounds of the Andes. The evening is spent at a traditional colonial hacienda.
Day 6: Hiking around Cuicocha Crater Lake (B,L)
After breakfast, we drive up to Cuicocha Crater Lake, located 10,000 feet (3,068 meters) above sea level within the Cayapas-Cotacachi national park. Cuicocha lake is a freshwater filled caldera of a dormant volcano, located at the foot of a volcano of the same name, and surrounded by stunning cloud forest scenery. We hike around the shore of the crater lake, admiring the lava dome islands in the centre and keeping an eye out for birds and other interesting wildlife. We enjoy lunch before departing for Quito in the afternoon. Upon our return, we have the evening free to explore the landmarks and night life of Ecuador’s capital city.
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